So if you’re one of the 10 readers of The Hollywood Reporter left in this town, then you may have noticed today’s rebrand. Yes, it looks cleaner and sharper. But ultimately it’s what’s inside the trade paper that counts. “It all has a fresh-coat-of-paint-on-the-Titanic vibe to me,” one THR source tells me. “I think the money could have been far better spent keeping bodies in the building that are now sorely, desperately needed.”
Insiders tell me that today’s THR.com launch was supposed to “correct” the 2006 site redesign that was perceived as “botched” mostly by the newsroom and the new executives. (Feedback from actual readers and metrics then were generally good.) Most of the inside-the-trade complaints concerned navigation issues. The newsroom thought breaking news was buried or hard to find. The business development side wanted a permanent home for its advertorial issues to grow consumer traffic. And advertising wanted more prominent video to sell pre-rolls. So does the new site solve any of these?
Insiders aren’t sure what the new design accomplishes and they doubt if anybody there will be happy. The new site has fewer news positions and more flash modules, no features landing page at all, and still no pre-rolls on the videos a year after the video launch. Also gone is the iconic logo while there’s no RSS. I’m told that video windfall promises were supposed to pay for this new design so the continued lack of it makes no sense.
“Soft ads but more expenses equal the 9 newsroom layoffs a couple weeks back…,” a source says. “This is a misguided attempt to chase elusive ‘prosumer’ traffic of the global entertainment audience that doesn’t advertise or work in Hollywood so whatever industry advertisers are left have no interest in reaching and so will provide no revenue growth.”
Meanwhile, the architect of all this is unpopular publisher Eric Mika who is described to me as “the antichrist” and as “a prick with all the people skills of a feral pig”.